Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

I found this story to be an easy, engaging look into one man's attempt to negotiate family crises, but what makes it different from other domestic stories is its point of view: an old and loyal dog named Enzo, companion to the real protagonist, Denny. Enzo is the kind of narrator you can't help but love. He offers the best of both third person and first person narration. He can zoom in and out of Denny's story, contemplate it, and add his own hopes and struggles to the mix. I really enjoyed getting to know Enzo.

One other spin on what might otherwise be just another domestic crisis story is Stein's use of the racing metaphor. It's more than a metaphor, because professional car racing is Denny's lifelong dream, and it continually gets held off and challenged because of his wife's illness and his in-laws' overbearing need to have control over his daughter's life. But I loved how the racing plays double duty as this metaphor for navigating through life. The techniques for successfully racing in the rain also apply to making it through the hard knocks in life. You'll have to read the book to find out what those are.